Whiplash occurs when the neck makes a violent pendulum movement. In just a fraction of a second, the cervical spine is excessively stretched and bent as a result of the accident, causing pain complaints. Many whiplash injuries occur in car accidents or collisions in contact sports. An estimated 84 million people suffer from whiplash yearly. In the USA, around 2 million people suffer from a whiplash injury each year.

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Common Whiplash symptoms

Whiplash pain complaints often occur during an accident, contact sports, or for example, a fall down the stairs. People with whiplash complaints indicate the following characteristics and symptoms:

  • Several headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Pain in the back, shoulder, and/or neck
  • Problems concentrating
  • Trouble falling asleep
  • Fatigue

If you suffer from whiplash, it is highly recommended to consult your doctor or physiotherapist, especially if the pain is very severe, has existed for more than six weeks, you develop symptoms or that the pain radiates to other parts of the body.

Causes of Whiplash

The whiplash that occurs when you are hit from behind is well known. The blow knocks your head back and then immediately forward again. Whiplash can also be caused by a violent movement in a sideways motion. In addition to collisions with cars, whiplash can be caused by accidents during sports or at home, for example due to falling down the stairs. To more accurately indicate the movement of the head, some doctors refer to whiplash as an acceleration injury (head moves forward) or deceleration injury (head moves backward).

Diagnosing whiplash is not easy. Usually nothing can be seen on X-rays and an MRI or CT scan only provides clarity in a few cases. However, other injuries can be excluded in this way.

Treatment options for Whiplash

In about half of whiplash patients, the whiplash pain complaints will go away on its own within three months. As estimated, 90% percent of people make a full recovery within a year. About 10 percent have permanent injuries. MRI and CT scans are often meaningless. A doctor must make the diagnosis based on the individual case. Careful exercise can be prescribed by a physiotherapist to help mobilize and strengthen neck muscles.